CHICAGO - Jeff Withey is projected to be picked in the middle of the first round in the NBA draft next month. The Kansas center is keyed up about Friday's interview with the Sixers, who are likely to pick 11th.

"I'm extremely excited," Withey said Thursday at the NBA draft combine at Harrison Street Gym. "I know a couple of guys on the team. Jrue Holiday, I played with him way back when. . . . And I'm excited to go meet with them and go talk with them. Obviously, I haven't done it yet. So I'm just trying to prepare myself for it mentally."

The 7-foot fifth-year senior and Holiday are both from Southern California. They were AAU teammates.

"I know Jrue very well," Withey said. "He's an all-star for them. That's awesome."

Withey is a talented shot-blocker, but he needs to add strength. He believes that will come naturally with the proper nutrition. In the meantime, Withey is confident that he'll help a team as a lockdown defender.

"I think I can bring that to the next level, as well as the pick-and-pop five," he said. "Today I was hitting a lot of jump shots. That's what I have been working on: my midrange game. That's what I feel more comfortable with right now. That's something I want to prove to everybody."

Withey averaged 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks this season.

Point guard's take. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams thinks the Sixers could be on the rise.

Some mock drafts have the Sixers selecting the 6-foot-6 sophomore. Carter-Williams believes he has an interview scheduled with the team at the combine. "I'm just not 100 percent sure," he said.

"They have good young players. They have good young guards. They are on the uprising. They are still trying to rebuild their team. And I think they could have a real good team in the future."

Plumlee will interview. Duke center Mason Plumlee also will meet with the Sixers at the pre-draft camp. He has a workout scheduled in Philadelphia before the draft.

Plumlee, Carter-Williams, and Indiana's Cody Zeller elected not to participate in Thursday's drills at the combine.